Planning for Your Best Wedding Day Timeline


Creating a wedding timeline doesn’t have to be difficult (especially when you have an awesome planner on your side!), and it can be one of the biggest things in reducing stress on your wedding day. That’s why I always work with couples and their planner on crafting the perfect photo timeline for the day. Below you’ll find a few tips and things to consider when creating the perfect timeline for your day!

1.  Before setting your ceremony time, look up sunset time for your wedding day.

Knowing what time the sun will set on your wedding day is a huge help when planning your wedding day timeline. If you’re wanting those lovely, romantic portraits, we need light! If you want any golden hour portraits, we should plan for those to take place 1.5 -2 hours before sunset. Knowing that helps us craft the timeline around the best light for the day. It also helps in deciding what time your ceremony should be so that you can plan for beautiful light as your saying your vows! Pro tip: If you’re getting married outside, look for areas of open shade! If you’re getting married indoors, think through when it’s brightest inside your location.

2. Determine whether you’d like to do a first look.

Having a first look helps the day run a bit more smoothly, as you’ll get the most important photos done before the ceremony and you’ll be able to join in on your cocktail hour a bit sooner after the ceremony. It helps ease nerves and it’s one of the few times you’ll get some slow & quiet time together. It’s always so sweet to see couples actually getting to spend some time together alone before the big events of the day start happening. And if you’re worried about his reaction, I can also reassure you that he will be just as thrilled to see you walk down that aisle towards him because it means you’re officially becoming his wife.

With that said, I didn’t opt for a first look on our wedding day (though I’m pretty sure I’d change that now!), so I completely understand if it’s not something you’d like to do. My best advice is that we simply work together to create the best timeline for your day to still allow for the best time & light!


3. Always account for wiggle room.

Chances are, something may run behind on your wedding day even if you’ve planned really well for it. The best way to keep things on time is to plan in some wiggle room into your timeline so that even if things get behind, you don’t feel rushed and the photos aren’t rushed.

4. Work with your photographer to determine how much coverage you really need.

Most of my couples end up with about 8 hours of coverage, but I’ve worked with couples anywhere from 6 hours to 12 hours. Some things to discuss include your ceremony & reception locations, how large your wedding is, and how much reception / getting ready coverage you’d like. I work with my couples throughout the entire planning process so that when the day comes, you simply sit back and actually enjoy your beautiful day!

5. Think through travel time needed if you’re having your ceremony and reception in different locations.

This can always sneak it’s way into a timeline and it’s crucial it isn’t forgotten! You may have scheduled 45 minutes for Bride & Groom portraits, but if it takes 15 minutes to get there and/or you need to return to the original location, that’s 30 minutes of travel time. If your ceremony & reception are all at the same place, make sure you account for at least a few minutes of walking between locations if it’s a big property.

Lastly, below you’ll find a few sample photo timelines based on a fall wedding. Of course, you can adjust based on the time the sun sets on your wedding day.


Sample Timeline with First Look:
12:30pm: Photographer arrives, Details & Getting Ready
2:00pm:  Bride puts dress on
2:15-3:15pm: First Look, Bride & Groom portraits
3:15-3:45pm: Wedding Party
3:45-4:15pm: Family Portraits
4:15pm: Bride & Groom hide, Ceremony & Reception detail photos
5:00-5:30pm: Ceremony
5:30-6:00pm:  Bride & Groom golden hour photos
6:00pm: Bride & Groom join cocktail hour
6:30pm – Sunset & Grand Entrance into reception
8:30: Reception coverage ends with an 8 hour timeline

Sample Timeline without First Look:
1:00pm: Photographer arrives, Getting Ready & Details photos
2:15pm: Bride puts dress on
2:20-2:50pm: Bride & Bridesmaid photos
2:55-3:15pm: Groom & Groomsmen photos
3:15pm: Bride & Groom Hide, Ceremony & Reception Detail photos
4:00-4:30pm: Ceremony
4:30-5:00pm: Family Portraits
5:00-5:15pm: Full Wedding Party
5:15-6:00pm: Bride & Groom Portraits
6:15pm: Reception grand entrance
6:30pm – Sunset
9:00pm: Reception coverage ends with an 8 hour timeline | Amy Nicole Photography

Have any questions or want to share more about your beautiful wedding day? I’d love to hear from you!

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I take a limited number of sessions each month (plus, I’m a bit of a planner and always account for possible weather and sick days!) I’d love to set up a time to chat with you, hear your vision and answer any questions! 

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